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Imagine Ellis Island Festival – May 15, 2016

Welcome to 2016 Imagine Ellis Island
Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Festival

To celebrate the 2016 AAPI Heritage Month and the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service with traditional and contemporary Asian American & Pacific Islander Music, Dance and Art involving the community in the NJ/NY area.

Sunday May 15, 2016, 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm

We highly recommend purchasing boat ride tickets in advance. The only on-site location to purchase authorized tickets is the Statue Cruises official ticket office inside Castle Clinton in Battery Park (links to Google Map). Plan ahead if possible, and avoid these scammers selling overpriced and/or fake tickets.

PROGRAM: (download pdf)
12:00 PM

Dragon Dance around the Ellis Island main building to open the festival
Performers: Asian American Dragon/Lion Association – Henry Lee, Director

Opening in the Great Hall
Welcome by Dr. Daniel Julius, Provost, New Jersey City University
Opening Remark by Honorable Sue Pai Yang, First Chinese American Judge in NJ (Retired)

Choreographer: Nai-Ni Chen
Music: C. Ronn Yedidia
Costumes: Ana Alisa Belous
Musicians: The Ahn Trio – Angella Ahn, violin; Maria Ahn, cello; Lucia Ahn, piano
Dancers:  Greta Campo, Walter Filmore, Jia Yin Goh, Guixuan Zhuang
Contrasting to the title of the music, the choreography explores the conflict and disturbance that sometimes happens in relationships.  The harmony in the music is the yearning of the heart seeking to settle in peace.

Purple Rain by Prince
Space Oddity by David Bowie
Skylife by Daivd Balakrishnan
Musicians: The Ahn Trio – Angella Ahn, violin; Maria Ahn, cello; Lucia Ahn, piano

Morinkhuur Imagination
Musician: Jigjiddorj Nanzaddorj, Mongolian Horsehead Fiddle
Dancer: Ying Shi, Guixuan Zhuang
Mastery of the Mongolian horse-head fiddle (morin khuur) is considered to be a supreme expression of Mongolian artistry, and a powerful example of cultural and intellectual heritage. The virtuoso Jigjiddorj Nanzaddorj plays the instrument with lyricism and complexity beyond his years, performing modern and traditional Mongolian pieces alongside contemporary Western classical works in his international repertoire.

Automne Etude Op. 55
Composer: Cecile Chaminade
Performer: Isaac Ezekiel Del Rosario, piano (NJCU Student)

Prelude from Suite No. 6 in D Major
Composer: J.S. Bach
Performer: Nan-Cheng Chen, cello

Choreographer: Nai-Ni Chen
Music: Gerald Chenoweth
Musician: Nan-Cheng Chen, cello
Dancers: Greta Campo, Jia Yin Goh, Candace Jarvis, Bo Pang
The choreography was inspired by the music.  The repetitive pulses of the string-plucking seems like the hidden energy under a calm water surface, and the up burst produced by the bowing is like the strong force of water currents running through in which it reminds the choreographer of a surge of passion and inner string of a female mind.

Spring at Tian Shan Mountain
A Rose for My Beloved
Musician: Chen Fan of the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York

1:00 PM Performance in the Outdoor Wall of Honor Area

Lion Dance
Performers: Asian American Dragon/Lion Association – Henry Lee, Director

America the Beautiful by Samuel Ward (arr. Michael Dadap)
Hamabe No Uta Japanese Folk Song (arr. Michael Dadap)
J.S.G.D. by Sierra Wojtczack
Holberg Suite (select movements) by Edvard Grieg
Traditional Songs of the Visayas (arr. Michael Dadap)
Folkloric Suite for Trumpet, Guitar and Orchestra – Visayan Traditional (arr. Michael Dadap)
Performers: The Children’s Orchestra Society (COS)
Dr. Yeou-Cheng Ma, Executive Director
Maestro Michael Dadap, Artistic & Music Director

Choreographer: Nai-Ni Chen
Music: Henry Wolff, Robert Rich, Sainkho Namtchylak
Costumes: Olu-Orondava
Dancers: Greta Campo, Jia Yin Goh, Candace Jarvis, Bo Pang
The choreographer draws inspiration from her childhood memory of the Taiwanese city in which she was born, Keelong, also known as the “Rain Harbor.”

Cosmic Dance
Choreographer: Akhilandeshwari Vasudevamurthy
Music: Gopala Krishna Bharthi (1811-1896)
Dance Company “Kalagangothri”: Akhilandeshwari Vasudevamurthy (lead performer), Chetan Hebbar (guest artist), Sai Aishwaryaa Sathish, Medha Gurukiran,  Vismitha Prashanth, Ananya Kondur, Sivaatmika  Subramony, Kushi Hebbar, Rohini Srivatsan, Anushka Kondur, Inchara Motanna
Lord Nataraja is the cosmic dancer as per Indian Philosophy. The dance elaborates about this great dancer and his dance.
Meaning of the song:
Can there be another god like Nataraja – the SabApati of Cidambaram?
Can we get another merciful one like him on this earth?
Just once, calling on Nataraja of Cidambaram, is enough. do you have to do any other penance for ages?
All the sages attained his feet, says the scriptures.

Festival Committee

Michael Amato – Chief of Interpretation of Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty National Park
Regina Andriolo – Board President, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company
Andrew Chiang – Executive Director, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company
Corky Lee – Artist, Historian, Photographer
Ariun Sanjaajamts – Founder, President, Mongolian Connections
Douglas Treem – Ranger, Ellis Island National Park Services
Dr. Josef  V. Tuazon – Founder, A Better Life Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab
Adina Williams – Senior Manager of Public Programs, American Museum of Natural History


Virginia Ng – Chapter President, OCA NJ
Simone Nguyen – Member of Asian American Bar Association of NY
Min Kim – Department Chair, NJCU Music, Dance, Theatre



NJCU-logo Horizon


Hailed as “exacting and exciting musicians” by the LA Times, the three sisters of the Ahn Trio (Lucia on the piano, Angella on the violin, and Maria on the cello) have earned a distinguished reputation for embracing 21st -century classical music with their unique style and innovative collaborations.  In 2011, President Obama invited the Ahn Trio to perform at the White House for a State Dinner honoring South Korea.  The Ahn sisters were born in Seoul, Korea, and educated at the Juilliard School in New York City.  Reflecting the two cultures they grew up in, the Trio brings a new energy and excitement to the chamber music world.  Such luminary composers such as Michael Nyman, Maurice Jarre, Pat Metheny, Paul Schoenfield, Mark O’Connor, Kenji Bunch, Nikolai Kapustin and Paul Chihara have written works for them.  In two decades of touring, the Trio has performed in all 50 states and in over 30 countries and has recorded six albums.  Maria, Lucia and Angella thrive on dissolving the barriers between art forms.  They have fused their work with a range of artists and musical genres, from dancers and lighting designers to DJ’s. Next Ahn Trio concert: Bergen Performing Arts Center, Englewood, NJ May 18th!

The Asian American Dragon & Lion Association (AADL) was established in 1998 to promote and preserve the art of traditional Chinese Dragon and Lion Dance through education, physical training and performances.  AADL performance teams — based out of northern New Jersey — have graced stages ranging from senior city homes and community centers to wedding halls, for audiences at Lincoln Center to IZOD Center, and at the pleasure of the President of the United States. Henry Lee, Executive Director / Trainer at the Asian American Dragon & Lion Dance Association headquartered in Wayne, NJ has been promoting the art of Chinese Dragon & Lion dance through lessons and performances since 1998.

Praised for his “Beautiful Tone” by New York Concert Reviews in 2011, award winning cellist Nan-Cheng Chen is passionate about sharing music with music lovers. At only age of 25, Nan-Cheng is the executive director and founder of the New Asia Chamber Music Society (NACMS), a member of Sonic Escape, Chen Trio, and many other active music ensembles in NYC. An active soloist, Nan-Cheng has collaborated with Simon Bolivar Orchestra, Queens Symphony Orchestra, Metro-West Symphony, Quincy Symphony and Symphony Pro Musica, which received a review states: “It was the kind of performance one might hear live only once a decade”, from Worcester Telegram and Gazette.  A Native of Taiwan, Nan-Cheng Chen came to United States at the age of twelve and attended Idyllwild Arts Academy in California, studying under Eleonore Schoenfeld. He then entered the New England Conservatory Preparatory Program at Walnut Hill School in Natick, MA to study with Mark Churchill. Nan-Cheng recently earned Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School, studying with Joel Krosnick, renowned cellist of The Juilliard String Quartet.

Now celebrating their 47th Season, the Children’s Orchestra Society is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to “Teaching Children the Language of Music” and has since become one of the flag bearers of early childhood music education.  Dr. Yeou-Cheng Ma, herself an alumni of the society, has been Executive Director since 1992.  As a Developmental pediatrician, she uses music in her work with children with development disorders in the Bronx and Queens.  Maestro Michael Dadap has served as Principal Conductor and Music Director/Artistic Director since 1984.  Bringing his musical prowess and vision to COS, Mr. Dadap maintains a busy career as an internationally acclaimed guitar soloist/composer and in 2000, was named “Artist of the Year” by the Flushing Council of Culture and Arts. COS offers a multitude of programs including four orchestras, seven chamber ensembles, and AP Musicianship (theory/ear training).  Today’s performance features the COS Chamber Ensemble, comprising of the elite young talents of the top two orchestras of the Children’s Orchestra Society.  Notable alumni include international cello soloist Yo-Yo Ma, Astrid Schween of the Juilliard String Quartet and Caroline Kennedy.

A non-profit organization founded in 1961, the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York is the oldest, largest, and only full-scale Chinese orchestra in the United States and the Americas. Its present membership of more than forty musicians plays almost all kinds of Chinese instruments and music. Its repertory ranges from ancient classical to modern compositions, spanning some fifteen hundred years of history. With the goal of promoting Chinese music, the Ensemble has performed at major concert halls in New York and at schools, colleges, libraries, and museums throughout the Eastern seaboard.

As a freelance musician, Isaac Ezekiel Del Rosario spends a majority of his time in the greater New York City area. He performs mainly as an accompanist in the styles of classical, jazz, and theatre music. Specializing in music education, Isaac has an affinity for teaching piano and general music studies. In his free time, he provides audio/visual assistance for DJ’s across the Tri-State area. Isaac hopes to combine his passion for music and formal education in building a lifelong career in the music industry.

Vidwan Sri. Chetan Hebbar and Vidhushi Akhilandeshwari – dynamic and spellbinding dancer couple from India have over the years carved their names as dedicated creative Bharathanatyam artists on the global arena. The duo has been credited with injecting a great deal of innovation, creativity, enthusiasm and imagination to classical dance. Dancing duo are the recipients of prestigious “Purandara Anugraha” Award – 2014 for their services in the dance field by TTD, Trust, Tirupati, India and have received “Nritya Mayuri” & “Nritya Ranjaka” titles by Swara Raga Sudha Kala Academy, New Jersey, USA.  They have honed  skills in ‘Nritta’ – Pure Dance Form, ‘rasabhinaya’ with decades of practice under these great Gurus and also attending different workshops conducted by Legends in Bharathanatyam.  In the year 2005, they established a Dance Company “Kalagangothri” at the cultural capital of Karnataka State – Mysore and runs their company in India & US for the purpose of propagation of Knowledge of Ancient Art & Culture which in turn imbibes Love, Peace and Humanity among the younger generation. Kalagangothri is recognized and affiliated with prestigious Conseil International de la Danse – UNESCO. They have trained & nurtured several young talents in Bharathanatya, Indian Classical Music and Yoga. Their performances, choreographies are aesthetic based on intense research work, filled with in depth ‘Rasabhinaya’, breath taking neat postures and high on rhythmic technicalities. They have performed at top dance festivals across India & abroad sponsored by Government of India and other leading organizations.

Bringing the dynamic freedom of American modern dance together with the elegant splendor of Asian art, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is one of the most visible Asian American dance companies in America.  Ms. Chen’s unique choreography transports audiences beyond cultural boundaries to the common ground between tradition and innovation, discipline and freedom, and form and spirit.  Since its inception in 1988, the company has earned a broad base of public support and has toured extensively to major performing arts centers throughout more than thirty states. Presented by some of the most prestigious concert halls in the United States, from the Joyce Theater in New York to the Ordway Center in Minnesota and the Cerritos Center in California, the Company has mounted more than twenty national tours and nine tours abroad.  Ms. Chen’s work has been presented by such acclaimed international festivals as the Silesian International Contemporary Dance Festival and the Konfrontations International Dance Festival, both in Poland, the Chang Mu International Arts Festival in Korea and the Beijing International Dance Festival.  The Company was also honored by a distinctive grant award from both the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities and the Department of State to represent the United States in a seven-city tour arranged by the Tamaulipas International Arts Festival in Mexico.  The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has the unique honor of having received more than twelve awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous Citations of Excellence and grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.  Other funders include the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; the Fund for US Artists at International Festivals & Exhibitions; the Hyde and Watson Foundation; Horizon Foundation, the Connelly Foundation; the E.J. Grassman Trust; the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust; the Lillian Pitkin Schenck Fund; the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; Verizon; Sony; Live Music for Dance; Chase Manhattan Bank; the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and others.  In addition to its extensive season of touring and performing, the company has developed Arts in Education residency programs in school districts to bring culture and arts into educational settings.  It’s colorful and engaging in-school assembly program “The Art of Chinese Dance” has been presented in hundreds of schools in NJ, NY, CT and PA, reaching hundreds of thousands of youth.

Jigjiddorj Nanzaddorj studied at the Music and Dance College of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from 2003-2013 under the instruction of Yo.Batbayar, State Meritorious Teacher of Mongolia, and graduated as a professional Morin khuur musician. He has been a member of the Morin khuur Ensemble of Mongolia since 2008 and has been a solo performer in dozens of works by Mongolian and foreign composers. As a part of ethno jazz band Arga-Bileg, he has recorded two albums ‘Deelt’ and ‘Dev’. In 2012 he recorded his first solo album ‘Portrait of Morin Khuur’. He has performed on many world renowned stages, including the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia, the National Grand Theater in Seoul, Korea, the China National Grand Theater in Beijing, the UNESCO Hall in Paris, France, United Nations Hall in New York, American Museum of Natural History and The Rubin Museum of Art in New York. In 2016, He has recorded on original soundtrack for the Netflix’s TV series Marco Polo in New York. Jigjiddorj (or Jiigee, as he is called) won first place at the first international contest of professional Morin khuur musicians in 2015, in addition to many international awards, and has twice been named the state laureate artist of Mongolia.